Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice

As much as people love to mock the trend of pumpkin spice everything, there’s a reason it’s so popular. It’s comforting and familiar and warming, and utterly perfect for this time of year. So when this kimono arrived in the mail, I knew I had to do an orangey-peach monochrome look with it, despite the orchid motifs being quite out of season.

The kimono is stunning; big blousy cattleya orchids in white and all shades of orange. They’re outlined in black in such a way that they feel like ink drawings. I don’t have a single other kimono painted in quite this style, and I freaking love it. I paired it up with the orange and white hakata side of one of my favourite chuuya obi, some peach accessories, and a new obidome I got recently. It’s a little ivory phoenix, and I love the final little punch of white it adds to the whole ensemble. I didn’t use a decorative haneri because I liked how the plain white echoed the big white orchids of the kimono. Overall, I’m really really happy with how this one turned out.

If these photos look a little off to you, I apologise. Firstly, my camera was giving me grief and I ended up taking these with my phone, and on top of that, the peach base colour of the kimono is nearly impossible to capture properly. I tried to do my best to balance everything but in reality the peach is more vibrant and the obi is much more orange, almost carrot-like and a perfect match to the orange in the kimono’s designs.

Three of the items in this coord haven’t had catalogue photos taken yet so the little item gallery is MIA for now. As soon as I can get around to cataloguing them I’ll update this entry!

Summer Farewell Ikebana

The weather here is finally getting cooler, to the point where I’ve actually felt straight-up chilly the past few nights. It’s wonderful! It’s a sure sign that summer is on the way out.

I don’t like summer but I know lots of people do so I wanted to do something to give my least-favourite season a proper send-off before we say hello to Autumn (the best season). My mother brought home an enormous bouquet of mixed flowers the other day after she was out running errands, and I was able to make three separate compositions with it. This is the first one.

The colours of these bold gladiolas and smaller flowers are the perfect bridge between a mid-summer sunset and warm fall foliage. The whole thing feels almost tropical but still very familiar. The green leaf was actually a fantastic slice of serendipity, and you’ll find out why later this week in an upcoming entry.

I’m not sure how I feel about the overall shape and composition of this one; I’d realised nearly everything I do is the composed, structural moribana style, and wanted to try a more relaxed nageire arrangement but to me it feels less like ikebana and more like a random western-style bouquet to me. I’ll have to keep trying!

Autumn Rose Ikebana

I finally had the time and money to stop by the florist’s today to see if anything inspired me. After a bit of browsing I came across these gorgeous miniature roses that reminded me of autumn foliage. It’s actually been snowy here for nearly a week already, but I’m determined to ignore that for as long as possible, and I thought they’d make a beautiful farewell to the season.

Alex, the kind and friendly owner of the florist shop, suggested the stem of large, shiny green leaves as some contrast foliage, and they look great. I’ve sadly forgotten what they’re called. I also wanted to practice forcing a curve in a stem without breaking it, and I think I’ve finally got the hang of it! The branch was originally perfectly straight, but I managed to get a nice, natural-looking curve to frame out the roses perfectly. It was feeling a little bit empty so I picked up some of this fluffy yellow plant at the flower counter in the pharmacy to fill it in a little bit, and it feels much more balanced now.

I’ve missed practicing my ikebana, and I feel like things generally weren’t flowing as well as they used to because I was rusty. But this turned out very much how I’d envisioned it, and I think it features the flowers perfectly, so I’m quite happy.

Fukiyose Ikebana

Fukiyose (吹き寄せ) is an autumn motif comprised of wind-blown foliage, pine needles, and other vegetal vestiges. From the very beginning of my ikebana journey, I’ve known I wanted to attempt an arrangement based on fukiyose. Unfortunately, Japanese maples are exclusively a prized and well-guarded ornamental plant here, so it’s not as though I had easy access to one, and it felt vital to the composition.

However, my aunt now has one in her garden and was kind enough to allow me to liberate a small branch. Once I had that in hand, getting the other bits was much easier. The neighbourhood where I live has planted ornamental ginkgo trees in a lot of public areas, and I’ve been assured in the past that so long as I’m careful and respectful of the plants I’m welcome to harvest a branch or two. So I grabbed a couple of those on the way home, and then used some of the pine boughs from a tree in our yard.

I have to admit, arranging branches in a way that looks natural but still intentional and aesthetically pleasing is more difficult than I’d anticipated! It’s hard finding that perfect space between “unruly and messy” and “overly forced”, and I’m honestly not sure I accomplished it as well as I’d like. But I’d been dying to do this arrangement for so long, and didn’t have easy access to different maple branches, that I wasn’t going to give up. A few leaves fell while I was arranging them but I think it adds to the wind-blown feel so I left them there, and it helped with the balance. There’s a good circular fluid motion to the whole composition, so it feels finished and cohesive to me, at the very least.

This may not be my favourite ikebana ever but I persevered and got it done, and I am proud of that. I do know that lately I haven’t been posting as many ikebana arrangements as I used to, but unfortunately my access to blooms from the great outdoors is over for the season, and I’m in a situation where my budget for things like fresh-cut flowers is basically zero for now. But there will be more whenever I can splurge a little!

October Rust – MonoKimono Challenge & Fudangi First Friday

I’m cheating today. Someone alert the authorities! Typically, the #MonoKimono challenge occurs on the last weekend of the month, and Fudangi First Friday occurs on, well, the first Friday. However, I had other things on my mind this past weekend, and I know this weekend is going to be quite busy, so I figured I’d take advantage of a free afternoon and combine the two smack in the middle of the week.

It’s finally, mercifully, starting to feel like Autumn here so that was my jumping-off point. I had to build an outfit that was both casual and monochrome, so it felt like the right time to bust out my rusty red-orange wool komon. My Tokaido hanhaba obi is an absolute spot on match for the kimono, even down to the yellow accent colour matching the yellow weave.

I’ve seen this sort of hanhaba musubi that almost looks like a miniature otaiko and wanted to give it a shot. It worked out quite well, I think. I also like the pop of contrast the yellow side offers – it echoes the yellow han-eri on the front view and helps draw attention to the subtle pattern in the kimono itself. I still think it’s subtle enough and in a close enough colour range to count as monochrome, too. While an obijime isn’t a necessity with this sort of an outfit, I did need it for this particular musubi and I just happened to have one that was another perfect match. I’m pretty sure this is the most monochrome outfit I’ve put together for this challenge so far.

Another reason I wanted to get this outfit on the mannequin is that I have something very neat in the works, and wanted her in something that felt seasonal and was nice to look at but also was very much a “background” feel and not something ornate that would steal the focus away. I’m being evasive now, but I promise I’ll tell you all what it’s for very soon!

Items used in this coordination